Exterior church lighting: how to light the façade

By: Secom
21 de July, 2022
Reading time: 5 min

The way the outer walls of a church are lit plays an important role in the overall aesthetic of the building. Churches are places for reflection and introspection. With that in mind, several factors influence the church aesthetic. Which ones play the biggest role when it comes to lighting a church façade?

In this article we will talk about...

  • Key aspects to consider
  • Achieving the best result
  • SECOM luminaires for exterior church lighting

Key aspects to consider

The link between the aesthetic of the church and its practical use is absolutely crucial when planning the exterior lighting. Hundreds of parishioners may visit these places of worship on a daily basis, in some cases sharing them with thousands of tourists drawn by their architectural and artistic beauty.

The façade style is the first point of note. It defines the aesthetic of the following:

  • Friezes and bas-reliefs. These should ideally be lit from a significant distance. For example, using lighting posts in the square facing the building.
  • Correctly lighting these sculptures from below creates dramatic chiaroscuro. The location of the lighting can be adjusted to soften the effect.
  • Rose windows. When the circular windows typical of churches built in the Romantic style are well lit, the resulting effect can be stunning. The ideal technique is to light the inner profile with a delicate beam dispersed over 180 degrees.

An analysis of all these elements helps create a perceptual hierarchy that draws the visitor’s gaze to the most important features, and facilitates the lighting design. For example, one church façade may have a famous rose window, while another may be a draw on account of its niche.  Hence the need to identify the most prominent features when deciding how to arrange the lighting.

Iluminación exterior iglesias

Achieving the best result

All of the above factors play a role in defining the lighting project and in selecting the most suitable luminaires for the job. We can make the following recommendations:

  • Use LED technology to save energy. This is even more important now that electricity prices have skyrocketed. In addition to reducing energy consumption, these powerful luminaires are extremely resistant and have a long useful life.
  • Create a sense of depth. This effect can be achieved by installing LED reflectors beneath the features in question. Lateral and overhead floodlights can prevent unwanted shadows.
  • Install RGBW systems. RGBW luminaires are increasingly common in lighting systems for church exteriors. These multicolour light fixtures with a white diode can be used to create highly original effects.
  • This is directly related to energy savings. Control systems can be used to manage luminaires remotely and ahead of time. To do this, they are equipped with sensors to detect when it is night, and timers.

A blend of luminaire styles can also help strengthen the introspective aesthetic alluded to earlier.

In addition to the façade, the path leading up to the church is just as important, particularly when dealing with interior façades within patios complete with trees and other natural features. Correctly lighting these areas creates a sense of harmony that captivates visitors. Luminaires should be hidden from view as much as possible.

Iluminar fachada iglesia

SECOM luminaires for exterior church lighting

Lighting a church façade is a job requiring considerable artistic knowledge and skill to draw the gaze to the main features and create an overall effect that encourages reflection and appreciation of the building’s beauty. SECOM has all the luminaires needed for the job, including floodlights, LED reflectors and RGBW systems that add colour and create a unique blend of styles.

Designing the lighting for a church exterior is no easy task, but with proper analysis and the right choice of luminaires, it is more than achievable. SECOM can furnish the lighting designers with everything they need to ensure the project’s success.

More in our blog